Sam Thaiday’s infamous NRL round-six stoush with Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves convinced Wayne Bennett the veteran should be a Bronco for life.
Five months of contract talks later and Bennett finally got his wish.
In a boost ahead of Saturday night’s NRL qualifying final with North Queensland, Brisbane have toasted 30-year-old Thaiday’s three-year contract extension.
The deal – reportedly worth $400,000 a season – all but ensures 228-gamer Thaiday ends his career at Brisbane and is on track to become the third member of the Broncos’ 300-match club.
Upon his return to Brisbane after a seven-year absence, Bennett in the off-season challenged Thaiday to earn a contract extension.
The ex-Broncos skipper duly regained career-best form, going from bench warmer to impact front-rower ahead of Brisbane’s first home final in four years.
Thaiday’s season highlight reel is long but one stood out for Bennett as he mulled over the veteran Test forward’s future at the Broncos – their match with the Roosters on April 10.
Thaiday had a running battle with Waerea-Hargreaves but emerged with a points decision in the heavyweight forward clash after Brisbane’s 22-18 golden-point win.
“When I came back there were a lot of question marks about a lot of things that I had to address,” Bennett said.
“But when he came off the night we played the Roosters, that sealed the deal for me.
“I just thought Sam had done enough at this club to be a one-club man.
“It was our responsibility to get a deal done and make that happen.
“And fans love him. So I called (CEO) Paul White the next day and said we have to keep Sam.”
It took months of talks to finalise the extension but Thaiday insisted it was always a “done deal”.
“It is always a hard decision and I’ve got a few new factors in my life now – I have a young family,” said father of two Thaiday.
“In my heart I always wanted to stay at the Broncos.
“We just had to iron out a few things so I could stay.
“This is where I have made my home. I came down (from Townsville) as a kid after graduating from high school in November 2002.
“I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else. It was always a done deal.
“I’m happy to be here, and happy to be here for life.”
Thaiday is now in sight of becoming Brisbane’s third member of the 300-game club, joining teammate Corey Parker (320 and counting) and Broncos great Darren Lockyer (355, NRL record).
“I think I will assess again after the three years is done,” Thaiday said.
“There might be some milestones I would like to reach – the 300 club would be fantastic to be a part of.”